Muller -- "Was Calvin a Calvinist?"

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Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
This is an interesting essay (transcript of a lecture) by Richard Muller. It examines the old "Calvin v. Calvinism" issues. I thought this paragraph, though, was particularly interesting:

1. The Problem of TULIP. By way of addressing these issues, we should note
first and foremost the problem of TULIP itself — an acrostic that has caused much trouble for the Reformed tradition and has contributed greatly to the confusion about Calvin and Calvinism. (I don’t plan to tiptoe through this issue.) It is really quite odd and a-historical to associate a particular document written in the Netherlands in 1618-19 with the whole of Calvinism and then to reduce its meaning to TULIP. Many of you here know that the word is actually “tulp.” “Tulip” isn’t Dutch — sometimes I wonder whether Arminius was just trying to correct someone’s spelling when he was accused of omitting that “i” for irresistible grace. More seriously, there is no historical association between the acrostic TULIP and the Canons of Dort. As far as we know, both the acrostic and the phrase “five points of Calvinism” are of Anglo-American origin and do not date back before the nineteenth century. It is remarkable how quickly bad ideas catch on. When, therefore, the question of Calvin’s relationship to Calvinism is reduced to this popular floral meditation — did Calvin teach TULIP? — any answer will be grounded on a misrepresentation. Calvin himself, certainly never thought of this model, but neither did later so-called Calvinists. Or, to make the point in another way, Calvin and his fellow Reformers held to doctrines that stand in clear continuity
with the Canons of Dort, but neither Calvin nor his fellow Reformers, nor the
authors of the Canons, would have reduced their confessional position to TULIP.
 

Reformed Thomist

Puritan Board Sophomore
It would be nice if Calvin were more Calvinistic on certain points.

I mean, he didn't even subscribe to the Westminster Confession. Something fishy about that.
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
This raises the question of exactly who first came up with the TULIP acrostic?
Does anyone here know?
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I agree. TULIP is a helpful summary of the doctrines of sovereign grace but is in no way a replacement or accurate representation of the Canons of Dordrecht as a whole since the Canons are a actually a presentation & defense of Reformed, covenant theology.

I also agree that Calvin would find our modern dependence on TULIP to be reductionistic.
 
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Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Attempted answer to my own question--earliest located example, 1905, Rev. Cleland Boyd McAfee, in a lecture before the Presbyterian Union, Newark, NJ, as per William H. Vail, writing in The New Outlook [vol. 104 (1913), p. 394], "The Five Points of Calvinism Historically Considered," where he states:

"Some eight years ago I had the privilege of hearing a popular lecture by Dr. McAfee, of Brooklyn [Cleland Boyd McAfee, 1866-1944], upon the Five Points of Calvinism, given before the Presbyterian Union of Newark, New Jersey, which was most interesting as well as instructive. To aid the mind in remembering the Five Points, Dr. McAfee made use of the word Tulip, which, possessing five letters, lends itself nicely to the subject in hand, especially as it ends with the letter P, as will be seen later."

Any earlier usage?
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
This raises the question of exactly who first came up with the TULIP acrostic?
Does anyone here know?
Some have attributed it to Loraine Boettner in 1932 in his The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. The order is different than the heads in Dort and reflects an English speaking effort at forging an acronym. In my recent graduate work on the Reformation and Calvin, I was convinced (in a preliminary way) that it cannot be attested in English prior to 1932 and Boettner.

Obviously, this is NOT a summary of "Calvinism" let alone "Reformed" thought. First, it represents a positive spin on answering the points of the Remonstrants. Dort was not a synod writing a full orbed theology, merely answering some specific Arminian errors. Second, it deals only with soteriological concerns, not the broader issues of covenant and ecclesiology crucial to Calvin, Calvinism, and Reformed thought generally.

Muller did a wonderful job of helping to pull the academic rug out from under those who had pitted Calvin against the Calvinists, suggesting that Calvin was good and those bad, nasty, scholastics (e.g., Turretin, Perkins, the Westminister Divines) messed up his wonderful theology. His many books and articles on the subject represent a pretty impressive scholarly refutation of such facile (and false) views.
 

Reformed Thomist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Some have attributed it to Loraine Boettner in 1932 in his The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. The order is different than the heads in Dort and reflects an English speaking effort at forging an acronym. In my recent graduate work on the Reformation and Calvin, I was convinced (in a preliminary way) that it cannot be attested in English prior to 1932 and Boettner.
I know Boettner's book has been massively influential, but color me surprised if that was in fact the acronym's debut.

Now that I think of it, however, I cannot recall encountering it in my reading of any text with an original publication date prior to that of Boettner's.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Does anyone actually take TULIP as anything more than a teaching device? I've never been inclined to use it as an historical pointer to the reformed tradition.
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Seth:

Thanks for that link, though I regret to see it is closed. Calling Dr. McMahon!!!

I do think I've discovered the earliest citation of the acronymn (that and $5 will get me a cup of coffee!). In that citation, Vail seems to provide that anecdote with a view to history, as if he was answering this very question.

Again, the earliest discovered use of the TULIP acronymn appears in an article by William H. Vail, writing in The New Outlook [vol. 104 (1913), p. 394], "The Five Points of Calvinism Historically Considered," where he states:

"Some eight years ago I had the privilege of hearing a popular lecture by Dr. McAfee, of Brooklyn [Cleland Boyd McAfee, 1866-1944], upon the Five Points of Calvinism, given before the Presbyterian Union of Newark, New Jersey, which was most interesting as well as instructive. To aid the mind in remembering the Five Points, Dr. McAfee made use of the word Tulip, which, possessing five letters, lends itself nicely to the subject in hand, especially as it ends with the letter P, as will be seen later."

The referenced date for the lecture would have been 1905. The above article of course is from 1913.

By the way, I used Google Book search to locate that material. The advanced search feature allows you to set a range of dates for the search, and I plugged in 1780-1940 and up popped that reference. Research is getting too easy. You young whipper-snappers don't know what real work is these days. . .[grumble]
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Seth:

Thanks for that link, though I regret to see it is closed. Calling Dr. McMahon!!!

I do think I've discovered the earliest citation of the acronymn (that and $5 will get me a cup of coffee!). In that citation, Vail seems to provide that anecdote with a view to history, as if he was answering this very question.

Again, the earliest discovered use of the TULIP acronymn appears in an article by William H. Vail, writing in The New Outlook [vol. 104 (1913), p. 394], "The Five Points of Calvinism Historically Considered," where he states:

"Some eight years ago I had the privilege of hearing a popular lecture by Dr. McAfee, of Brooklyn [Cleland Boyd McAfee, 1866-1944], upon the Five Points of Calvinism, given before the Presbyterian Union of Newark, New Jersey, which was most interesting as well as instructive. To aid the mind in remembering the Five Points, Dr. McAfee made use of the word Tulip, which, possessing five letters, lends itself nicely to the subject in hand, especially as it ends with the letter P, as will be seen later."

The referenced date for the lecture would have been 1905. The above article of course is from 1913.

By the way, I used Google Book search to locate that material. The advanced search feature allows you to set a range of dates for the search, and I plugged in 1780-1940 and up popped that reference. Research is getting too easy. You young whipper-snappers don't know what real work is these days. . .[grumble]
Congrats on the historical research. I have seen numerous (normally quite reliable) sources claim that Boettner was the first attested instance of the acronym. Nice catch, Wayne!
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Whadda I win???!!! Whadda I win???!!!

oh: fond congratulations.

nevermind. shuffles away.

:(
 
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